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January 20, 2012 > Xiao shares pressed flower art

Xiao shares pressed flower art

By Mekala Neelakantan

Through March 31, the Milpitas Library will host a gallery display of pressed flower art by local artist Mr. Charles Xiao. Xiao, a former physician and Acupressure therapist, has created more than 100 pressed flower pieces over the past ten years. In addition to a display at the Milpitas Phantom Gallery, his work has been showcased in several other galleries and libraries throughout the Bay Area. His knowledge, creativity, and techniques received outstanding reviews at the 2008 Worldwide Pressed Flower Guild Conference. Xiao's work is known to be inventive and organic, incorporating different aspects of nature to preserve and celebrate their original beauty.

Pressed flower art began in Europe and grew in popularity during the Victorian age. Each pressed flower painting is created solely from natural elements such as flowers, branches, and leaves, except for the background painting on canvas. Besides any necessary trimming and shaping, the flowers and plants stay in their original state, transformed and arranged to create beautiful portraits, nature scenes, animals, and even human figures.

Xiao's introduction to pressed flower art came by accident when he visited a woman's home in Hayward. Noticing a pressed flower painting, he asked where he could buy such a painting. The woman did not have an answer, so Xiao decided to create the art on his own. With no formal training, Xiao began to make his pressed flower paintings. "I love nature so much, and pressed flower art is a wonderful way to keep nature from going away, because nothing can replace nature's beauty and quality," says Xiao. "If I can maintain nature's original color and life and transform them into pictures, it could be a wonderful creation."

According to Xiao, one piece of pressed flower art may take weeks or even months to complete. The process begins by collecting and drying various flowers and plants; many are too withered or faded to be used. The most well-preserved specimens are selected.

Nature's creations are the center of attention in Xiao paintings: a waterfall scene with rocks formed by pressed mushroom caps, a peacock made entirely of feathers and different parts of flowers and plants, and an under-the-sea scene in which each fish is created by using a single flower petal. When asked which creation is his favorite, Xiao points to a beautiful painting of a hawk devouring salmon, explaining how he created the piece, even using hibiscus flowers to create the hawk's talons. "My dream is to publish a book about the lost art of pressed flowers, writing about the procedures, the history, and giving a step-by-step demonstration."

Xiao's art will be on display in the Milpitas Library's display cases and the south wing until March 31. There is no entrance fee; the exhibit is open during gallery operating hours.

Pressed Flower Art Display at Milpitas Library
Through March 31
Monday-Thursday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday: Noon to 6 p.m.
Milpitas Library
160 North Main St., Milpitas
(408) 586-3210

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